The Elva Jenkins Hendershot papers are primarily composed of family letters written by Elva and Clarence Hendershot to her parents, William James and Eva Mae Brooks Jenkins, and Elva’s sister, Mildred, on the couple’s second missionary tour in Burma (1932-1935). The letters are rich in details about their mission work and family life with their little daughter, Elaine. Information regarding Elva Jenkins’ earlier missionary service, as well as the second tour with her husband, may be found in A Journey: The Story of Elva Jenkins Hendershot In Her Own Words, which was compiled, with additional notes, by her daughter, Elaine Hendershot Munson. The collection also includes a small box of photographs (most without captions or dates) that depict the sights and people of Burma, as well as family and friends.
The earliest item in this collection is a presentation album of original artwork bearing the title: “Keng Tung painter of Yan Hlwa village, 13th day of waxing moon of Tawthalin, 1287 [i.e., 1925].” The album was given by the artist to Elva Jenkins to thank her for caring for his sick wife. Captions to identify each illustration appear at the top of each page and are written in three languages: Burmese, Tai Kheun, and Old Shan.
According to Burma scholar, Catherine Raymond, Shan presentation albums comprise “illustrations of multiple ethnic groups, each represented by paired male and female figures in distinctive costumes, often holding an emblematic artifact which evokes a characteristic cultural practice.” (221) Raymond postulates that these albums were produced by local artists exclusively in the Kengtung area of Eastern Shan State; and that the albums served as view books of various ethnic peoples “either for some native notable, or for the European clientele living in British Burma at the turn of the 20th century, when the Shan States came finally under the administration of the British Raj.” (222) (“An Ethnographic Illustration of Wa People in British Burma during the Early 20th Century: Notes on a Shan Album from the NIU Burma Collection, with Reference to Similar Illustrations from Other Sources. The Journal of Burma Studies Vol. 17 No. 1, 2013, pp. 221-241). Only a few examples of Shan albums still exist, and of these, the 26-page album held by the American Baptist Historical Society is one of the most complete.
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The collection is open for research. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and copyright holder.